Faith healers overexposed in K-P commercials
PESHAWAR: Advertisements of faith healers and quacks continue to be aired by local cable channels and radio stations in parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), despite a ban imposed on such advertisements by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).
The electronic media watchdog had imposed a ban on such advertisements as many locals have been cheated by such faith healers.
A resident of Nowshera district, who spoke to The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity, said that he approached one such faith healer after seeing a commercial on his television. The resident approached him, with his wife, as the commercial said he could cure infertility.
According to him, the healer charged him Rs10,000 per session and gave an amulet to him. The healer had asked his wife to wear the amulet to get children. However, with disappointment he said, “We were happy that we will get a child but nothing happened.”
He said that they visited the faith-healer five times and gave him Rs50,000 but his wife did not become pregnant.
Currently, there are no figures available to determine the total number of faith-healers practising in the province. Pemra had issued a notification in March last year directing all satellite, radio stations and cable television networks not to air commercials which promote faith-healers, quacks or Hakeems.
The watchdog in its code of conduct for electronic media in the country has also issued an advisory to channels asking them not to air any commercials promoting black magic or quacks.
Pemra’s K-P region manager Rahat Ali, when contacted, said there are 600 cable channels operating in the province and that Pemra monitors them on a regular basis.
Ali assured, “Commercials of faith-healers are banned on any media outlet, until they get a No Objection Certificate from the provincial health department.” However, he admitted that the authority mostly relies on the complaints of the viewers against such commercials.
When asked about action against such outlets, he said Pemra’s council of complaints decides the size of the penalty to be imposed on the networks that violate such rules. He added that there are no limits on the fines imposed by Pemra and can be extended to Rs1 million.
One of the faith healers in Peshawar, who spoke on the condition that his name should not be mentioned because he fears arrest, said that he was using Quranic verses for resolving problems.
He said that they don’t give any guarantee to the people visiting them but ask them to pray to God to resolve their issue by giving them some amulets which have Quranic verses inscribed on them.
However, he admitted that there were some quacks that were using illegal means for resolving problems. He said, “Some faith-healers are using black magic which is against the Islamic principles.”